Bella Vista Church of Christ

LIFELINES

06/14/2017

Randall Caselman

 

Radical Biblical Forgiveness

 

  Teaching us to pray, Jesus said: "Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors" He was not speaking about money but trespasses: "For if you forgive men their trespasses… Your heavenly Father will forgive you."  Jesus was saying God will forgive us as we forgive others — sobering statement! Why do we find forgiveness such a difficult subject? Why do we find it hard to forgive others? Allow four possible reasons...

 

  Because forgiveness is unmerited. Our culture struggles with free gifts, unmerited gifts, like grace. Forgiveness is unearned — it’s a gift of the forgiver. Say the word out loud — forgive. Forgiveness is a gift. When someone says, I am not going to forgive because they don't deserve it, that individual doesn't understand forgiveness. It’s a gift. Here it is, if forgiveness could be earned, merited, we wouldn't need it.

 

  Because forgiveness is unnatural. Do banks forgive debts? Do politicians forgive their enemies? Do umpires and referees forgive sports penalties and fouls? Forgiveness is not easy, it's discipline. Forgiveness is a work, hard work!

 

  Because forgiveness is costly. We must humble ourselves to forgive. Have we been hurt by others? Are we suffering? Does he or she deserve forgiveness? Have they repented? Have they said, "I'm sorry?" No! But we must forgive anyway. 1) Because God commands, and 2) He will bless us for paying the price. We must stop blaming others for our lack of Biblical forgiveness. It's time we assume responsibility for our own behavior and live like Jesus. Indeed, forgiveness is pricey. It was for Jesus and it will be for us, but it is the right thing to do.

 

  Because There Are No Guarantees. Forgiveness is difficult because it doesn't guarantee that the offending party will change their attitude. But really, that’s not important, is it? What the other person does is not in our hands. Forgiveness is about us, me. Our forgiving others frees us. It clears our mind and opens the way for God to forgive us — what a blessing! Biblical forgiveness, radical forgiveness, only takes one – That's me. Reconciliation takes two, but forgiveness takes only one. Such radical forgiveness has nothing to do with the second party. Jesus, hanging on the cross, forgave the Roman Soldiers, the Jewish Officials who put Him there, the bystanders and passers-by who were mocking Him, and us. Forgiveness freed Jesus to be the Son of God, and it will do the same for us. God help us to forgive and enjoy the benefits God provides. Amen?

 

Note some ways we benefit from such radical forgiveness:

 

  It Benefits Us Spiritually. "If you forgive those who sin against you… Your Father in Heaven will also forgive you." The cost of getting even is that we can’t be forgiven. No, I am not saying we can earn or merit our forgiveness. Jesus is saying that an unforgiving attitude blocks God’s forgiving us. No wonder Paul said: "Do not let the sun go down on your wrath." Our spiritual health is dependent upon our willingness to forgive. It was Jesus who said: "If you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins” (Mark 11.25).

 

  It Benefits Us Physically. Job 5.2 says: "Resentment kills a fool." Job 18.4 reads: "You are torn to pieces because of your anger." How many people do we know that have ruined their lives with anger and resentment? They have stewed over wrongs done to them until they cannot enjoy any of God’s blessings. They have ruined their health. They have felt sorry for themselves until life is a bore. Forgive! Forgive! Forgive! Release the hurt! Live again! Such radical forgiveness restores the good life that Jesus came to make possible.

 

  It Benefits Our Witness. "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven" Folk, the kingdom of God will become a reality in our world when we behave as God commands, when we do as He asks and forgive. This model prayer is not a prayer to be mouthed, but a prayer to be lived. When we live out this prayer, along with the rest of the Sermon on the Mount, the world will take note of the fact that the Kingdom of God has indeed come in my life and yours. That’s evangelistic. Too many of our family, friends and working companions cannot see the kingdom today, simply because we, as His children, do not practice Radical Biblical Forgiveness.

 

  "Do not repay evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the sight of all men."Paul, what is right? "As far as it is possible, as far as it depends upon you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, but leave room for God’s wrath. It is His to avenge." The only way to accomplish this, the only way to live up to Paul’s admonition, is to practice Radical Biblical Forgiveness.

 

— RANDALL CASELMAN